Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits is one of those meals that defines you as someone who lives in the south.  You may never eat it if you live elsewhere, but if you move to the south, somehow a hankering develops for shrimp and grits and you will definitely eat them somewhere.  At a restaurant, at a friend's house, somewhere.

As a little kid, I thought "grits" were a body part.  Though I don't actually remember watching Alice on television, I can certainly remember the phrase, "kiss my grits".  Thus, body part.  Ahh, the innocence of youth!  It never occurred to me that grits could be food, because I lived in the mid-west thus we didn't eat grits.  Simple as that.

Then I moved to Houston.  In the south, people might eat grits with any meal.  You could make it a bit soupy, add some salt or sugar and it is a breakfast cereal.  Or add some salt, bacon, cheese and/or red-eye gravy and it is a nice side to some scrambled eggs  and bacon, instead of the hash browns you might get elsewhere.  Use the same flavor combinations and serve it with fried catfish for dinner.  You can even fry it in a pan or mold it into blocks, slice it and fry the slices for a whole new twist!  In truth, there are many places in the south where Shrimp and Grits would be on the breakfast menu as well as a lunch and dinner menu.  It is a versatile food!  Depending on where you live in the south might dictate how you cook them.   In some areas, grits are cooked with water.  I had my first grits in southern Georgia, and they were cooked with milk.  Thus, I cook my grits with milk. 

I have made a variety of Shrimp and Grits recipes, but this one was just a little different and mighty tasty.  Often, Shrimp and Grits has some sort of tabasco or other hot sauce in the recipe, so the shrimp have a nice kick to them.  When I found this recipe for Lemon-Garlic Shrimp, I decided it was different and worth a try.  I am so glad I gave it a try because they were delicious and could slide into ranking number 1 for favorite Shrimp and Grits recipe!

There is one serious problem with the original recipe, however.  It calls for INSTANT grits.  What??  Instant??  No true southerner cooks with instant grits.  No, I am not a true southerner, but I have to agree with the southerners on this point.  Instant grits are dreadful.  Yuck.  They are not a food.  They are more like wallpaper paste or grout or something.  Do not eat them.  I get Bobs Red Mill corn grits.  Mmmm.  Anyway, I had to do the grits a different way than the original recipe suggested, and prayed that Food Network's serious lack of judgement in including instant grits as an ingredient didn't transfer to the rest of the recipe.  Thankfully, it didn't!

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp and Grits
adapted from Food Network Magazine
Serves 4

Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
2 TB butter
2 large cloves garlic, miced
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon, plus wedges for serving
2 TB roughly chopped parsley

Start the grits first, then work on the shrimp.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shrimp, garlic and cayenne (if using) and cook, tossing, until the shrimp are pink, 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add 2 TB water, the lemon juice and parsley, and stir to coat the shrimp.  Season with salt and pepper.

Creamy Grits:
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 cup grits (NOT INSTANT!!)
1-2 TB unsalted butter, cubed
1/4+ cup grated parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, bring water, milk and salt to a boil.  Slowly stir grits into boiling mixture.  Whisk continuously until grits are well mixed.  Reduce to low heat and continue to whisk often, until thick and smooth, approximately 5-10 minutes.  Add cheese and stir gently until the cheese melts.  Turn off the heat and allow grits to rest about 5 minutes.  Stir in the butter and stir until completely smooth.  If the grits are too think in consistency, add milk over low heat, whisking constantly.

Never use the recipe on the side of a package of grits.  They are bad news and you will think am a crazy person for liking grits!

Divide the grits among shallow bowls and top with the shrimp and sauce.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Printable Recipe

No matter where you happen to live, give this recipe a try.  Your southern friends will thank you, your northern friends will think you are a genius.

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